California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Mission Brick Company

History

In early 1924, the Mission Brick Company began construction of their brick plant at 6140 Sepulveda Boulevard, or 51209 Saugus Avenue, in Van Nuys, Los Angeles County, California. The company owned five acres of land containing a 5- to 20-foot thick bed of red-burning clay beneath two feet of soil. The clay was mined by an open pit using scrapers and a Fordson tractor. By the summer of 1924, the plant was completed and ready for production.

The plant was equipped with a hopper, conveyor belt for conveying the clay to a receiving bin, a pug-mill, a Quaker brick press, with a capacity of 20,000 brick per day, drying sheds, hand trucks, two gas-fired field kilns, with a capacity of 50,000 bricks each, and a 60 h.p. electric motor for power. In December 1927, the company ordered 20 six-brick maple molds, 9 x 4 1/4 x 2 7/16 inches, with five plain panels and one marked panel with "MISSION" set in a rectangular frog. The company also ordered eight Padre three-tile molds, 9 x 9 x 2 7/16 inches, indicating that floor tiles were also made.

The brickyard operated four months out of the year with 20 employees. Red common brick were manufactured and sold locally. W. R. Noe was the first plant manager and he was succeeded by Joseph F. Reutera by 1927. A. E. L. Anderson and his wife of Los Angeles were the owners of the company.

The Mission Brick Company was short-lived, having been in operation for only five years. The plant closed in 1929. I estimate that during that period the company produced about 12 million bricks. Mission bricks are found in the brick structures built from 1924 to 1929 in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles area.

Mission Brick

Mission common pressed brick is orange-red and mostly uniform in color. The surface is rough or gritty. The sides show faint transverse striations and a crackled surface. Edges are sharp to dull, corners are dull. The top face is rough, pitted, with a longitudinal strike mark, and some may have a thin irregular lip around the edges. The bottom face has a rectangular side-beveled frog that measures 6 5/8 inches in length, 2 inches in width, and 1/8 inch in depth. Centered in the bottom of the frog are the raised block letters "MISSION" that span 5 7/8 inches in length and 1 1/8 inches in height. The interior contains 5 percent subrounded white quartz and red quartzite up to 1/4 inch across in a orange sandy clay body. This brick was made using the soft-mud process in a brick press. Length 8 5/8, width 3 7/8, height 2 1/2 inches.

Mission brick
View of the bottom marked face of the Mission brick.

Mission brick
View of the side of the Mission brick.

Mission brick
View of the top face of the Mission brick.

References

Brick and Clay Record, Mission Brick Will Open In Summer, v. 64, no. 12, 1924, p. 896.

California Division of Mines, Directory of Producers, Bulletin 103, 1929, p. 168.

Dietrich, Waldemar Fenn, The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin no. 99, 1928.

Higgins, Josh, written communications, 2012.

Stoll, G.C. ledgers, Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., copied by Josh Higgins, 2012.

Copyright 2010 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.